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5 things i’ve learned during my career

31 Jul
i’ve had a career in advertising over the past 24 years (i’m old!)and i’ve learned a thing or two that i’d love to pass along.  i’ve been mentoring and talking with girls in college and it made me think to do this.
dadamy

1. don’t become irrelevant.  

work hard to stay relevant.

and what that means is less about keeping up with the jones and more about staying knowledgeable and curious. this has always been a big deal to me.  it was when i was young and now that i’m in my 40’s.  it should have been a big deal to brands like radio shack and blockbuster video – right?

in my career of advertising this couldn’t be more true.   it’s important to be up on how marketing is evolving and being aware of how consumers are communicating with brands is changing.  when i hear people in business almost brag about not being in touch with social media it makes me sad for them.  it’s sad because it’s like saying “no” to knowledge.  when i hear that someone is too busy to learn modern technologies to better their lives, i know they are slipping down the path of not being relevant.  and that is their personal prerogative, but for my career, it has served me very very well to strive to be relevant.

2. be passionate

if you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, then you’re going down the wrong path. turn around.  change.  figure it out.
passionpaycheck
we were made to do what we are passionate about, you know.   you can’t hide passion.  it doesn’t matter if you’re running a company or driving a bus – passion AFFECTS people.  it gets you noticed – and not from your words, smarts or know-how.  people feel passion and passionate people always win.
one time, ROF and i went to the nespresso store to buy espresso.  it was our first time in the store and we were helped by dan.  let me tell you, you would have thought that dan owned nespresso and was part-timing in the store in paris.  he was fantastic.  he gave us an experience of the store that will make us come back for sure.  he knew what he was talking about but delivered it in a way that got us excited about coffee.  he bagged our coffee, taught me how to really make espresso (whoops, doing it wrong), made me a coffee and gave us his opinion on machines.  we can’t wait to go see dan again when our coffee gets low.  be dan.

3. have a POV

this is the difference between an A and B player in business.  one of my favorite bosses and people of all time told a group of people this and it has always stuck with me.  when you think about it, it goes along with having passion.  having a point of view spiked with passion is awesome.  kinda like this:

knowing when to speak up with your point of view is key.  just because you have one doesn’t mean the people around you want to hear it or you should necessarily express it.  but always have one.

how i start to get a point of view on something is i run it through this filter:

– do i know anything about this subject?  
no – read up + formulate.  
no – don’t care (by the way, this is a POV too)- does it ladder up with any of my morals/values/beliefs i have in general?

throughout life, you will be strengthening and building upon the point of view you have on things.  as i get older, i find that my POV on some important topics changed just because i experienced something first hand.  for example, you can have a POV on how to react to death but until you experience the death of a loved one, you can’t truly have an opinion.</

4.  be a great leader

you don’t have to be a boss to be a great leader.
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this comes from the POV that to whomever you come in contact with on a particular day, be an example of love.
people can hear advice and reprimands and they can do a to-do list but they FEEL love.  just like they feel passion.  being an example of love means simply caring about people and their lives.  and i do believe that to be a quality of leadership.   even though we’re talking about a career, work is just a part of life.  if you care about the bigger picture – the person – the smaller picture – work – always benefits.
whether you are the boss, the entry-level person, the walmart greeter, the cashier, the fashion icon – you can be a leader.  lead with love.  i personally follow the tenets of servant leadership.
always lead with love.

5. be true to yourself

why is this good career advice?  i don’t know, really.

what i do know is that throughout my 23 years, i haven’t always been true to myself.  like most people, you just want to do an outstanding job and when i was in my 20’s, i was willing to stay the late hours to get the job done.  i went in on the weekends and checked voicemail constantly (before mobile phones, if you can imagine that!)  And there is nothing wrong with that.  working hard is good!
but if you’re in the game long enough, that work hard philosophy evolves ever so slowly.  going the extra mile for work can, if you’re not careful, turn into sacrificing what you really want in life.  WATCH THIS!  it sneaks up on you.  a mid-life crisis can ensue where your old self – the one that was there all along but got smooshed down way low- says WAIT A MINUTE!  HOLD UP! i’ve been working so hard my whole life but i’m not doing what i’m passionate about!    what happened to…me!
i’ve seen this happen with colleagues and friends and it’s such a wonderful thing to see their real passion come out when they choose to pursue it.
thankfully, i’ve always been very passionate about my career and what i’m doing.  working with creative people, leading the way in new technologies, having a strong POV and striving to be relevant have been cornerstones for me the past 24 years.  
i can’t wait to see what the next 25 years hold.

moving outside your comfort zone is living!

29 Jun

the other day i was cleaning out my office closet and came across all the journals i wrote in my 20’s.  there are tons of them.  all funky colors, dog-eared and written in different color inks.  i love these books.  i can transport myself back to my 20’s which were oh, so far away <sigh>

i don’t often open them up and read them, but when i do, it makes me smile.

may 13, 2001

today was an excellent day.  this whole weekend was wonderful.  it’s not too often i write about such great times.  i usually am too busy having fun to sit down and write about it!  today i had my ‘level c’ improv performance on the main stage at second city in chicago!  on the main stage!  it was awesome!  the place was packed full + we rocked it.  everyone laughed!  i think i am still nervous.  the lights, the stage, the people – !

i remember that like it was yesterday.  it was so much fun but completely + utterly nerve wracking at the same time.  i felt so alive and present because of it.  i found these pictures:

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all in all i believe i took 40 weeks of improv classes.  it sure did get me out of my comfort zone.  it certainly helped me learn how to present with confidence and conviction in my ad meetings.

to be a person living with passion, you have to get out of your comfort zone.  for some that means jumping out of a plane.  for others it means taking a walk after dark.  doesn’t matter.  do one thing today that is out of your comfort zone.  otherwise you may grow old just “being.” you may think there is nothing wrong with just “being” but i say you will never know what you were meant to BE without stretching past what you know.  just do it.

i would love to hear about something you did that was outside your comfort zone.

the grass is greenest where you are now.

25 Jun

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i’ve been accused of having a positive attitude.  i’ve heard it several times over the years.

i’m not sure if that’s good or not, but i would say that it beats the alternative.  there is nothing i hate more, in business or life, than a complainer.  actually, that’s a lie (i don’t hate liars…ha!) i hate whiners.  everyone’s got to complain now and then.  that is just venting, letting it out – letting it go.  that, every now and then, is no big deal.  it’s whining that i can’t stand.  don’t whine in America.  go whine in a country where your freedom is limited, go whine in a place where you don’t have a choice.  i’ve been in a leadership position now for over 15 years and my advice to someone who whines or gossips about their job is – for crying out loud – leave!

my positive attitude stems from this: the grass is greenest where you are now.

think “what if.”  this just doesn’t have to do with your career but your life in general.  think to yourself “what if this is as good as it gets and it is only my attitude that sucks?”  do a check on your attitude and outlook on life in general and if the answer then is – no this truly sucks, then move on.  it’s taking ownership of your life.   by switching your thinking that the grass is actually greenest where you are right now should change your perspective from pointing to external circumstances and pointing the finger at yourself.  how am i in control of this?  

“i know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor”  – Henry David Thoreau

i think it’s important to be hyper self-aware before you make sudden moves.  my positive attitude stems from the question i  try to ask myself: “did i make a positive contribution to my surroundings, my goals and my team today and did i do my very best in this situation?”  i’ve trained myself to think this way.

it also stems from something i learned in advertising almost 22 years ago: a good account executive shows what they are made of when they are under fire.  i learned that when i was 22 years old and it stuck with me.  when the shit hit the fan, i wanted to be the leader -even if i was the intern! –  that rose above the anarchy (that ad has to go out tonight!! the client hates the font, the meeting was moved to today, she quit and went to the competition!!!) and said “BUCK UP, LET’S DO THIS AND DO IT WELL!”

while i may have a positive attitude most of the time, it doesn’t mean i’m a pushover or pollyannish.  but it does make me realize that someone’s else’s crappy or bitchy attitude probably has more to do with their outlook on life than on me.  <hopefully!>

if you don’t already, start thinking about your life in the terms that the grass is greenest where you are right now and see where it takes you! oh, and read this book asap.  i promise it will change your life!

happy tuesday!

social media tips for busy executives

11 Mar

social media can be daunting,

especially if you’re already having trouble

fitting your to-do list into a normal day.

busy-executive

who has time for it?  you say to anyone who asks.

social media is very important in this current year of 2014.  you can’t ignore it anymore.  but there are some things you can do to make it less time consuming.  why is social important for you?  i’ll give you just this one reason:

because now, current clients/potential clients/employees/bosses can get to know more of you than before social media.  why is that good?  because YOU CONTROL IT.  let’s take the core social platforms and compare them to their traditional (semi) equivalent:

LinkedIn:  business cards.

except with LinkedIn, you can exchange “business cards” online that include who you know in common (great conversation starter),  your complete work history and list of  accomplishments.  also you don’t need to know each other to exchange cards.  the best way i heard this explained was that connecting on LinkedIn was like a “soft” handshake.

manageable LINKEDIN

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1. update your page.  write down your password and check the box that says to keep you checked in.  make sure in your settings, your email is current and you are getting notified if someone links in to you.  get a great picture on there that represents you well.  write a summary.  pretend that a potential client is reading this – what are they reading?  do this now.

2. BE VERY VERY SELECTIVE.  do not write recommendations for someone unless you absolutely would hire them in a new york minute.  don’t accept everyone’s request.  do not hesitate to clean your connections up.  no one gets a notice that you’ve dropped them. these are the people you should accept:

– you know and like them. do not link in with people who just want to use you or your connections to just get a job and that’s it.

– they work in an industry you are in and are in a position to support you or vice versa in some way.

– you are interviewing them

– you currently work with them.  (note: this is how you stay in touch with peers via other jobs that you would nonetheless never talk to again)

do not worry about hurting people’s feelings.  it’s ok.  this is your page and YOU CONTROL IT.

3. Just maintain.  make sure you check your LinkedIn emails and link into people you are meeting with as a way of introduction.  And that’s it.  of course, there is so much more, but if this is the bare minimum.

twitter: newspaper

except with twitter, you customize your front page or “feed” with your interests.  from hot trending topics, to sports, to rush hour traffic.  twitter isn’t printed the evening before, it is instantaneous.  it is 10X better than newspaper.

you can do twitter.

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1. just like LinkedIn, make sure your picture, profile + settings are all up to date.  make sure that if you are mentioned in a tweet or you get a direct tweet – those come in the way of a notification on your phone.   if someone is talking to you, then you want to respond.  recently, onstar tweeted my blog (this blog) out to their followers and i thanked them and they invited me down to their HQ.  just from a tweet.  oh yea, stoli vodka responded via twitter on this blog here!

2. pick 2 times a day to check in on twitter.  scroll through your feed, check out any notifications.  i do this in the morning.  i read a news aggregator called Zite and tweet out the social media articles i read and like.  then at noon i check in and see that other people have favorited them (when they favorite them, it goes out to their followers) and who retweeted (forwarded) my tweets.  all this does is get you noticed and can give you legitimacy in a chosen field.

3. when you travel, follow key places.  if you’re going to vegas, you better follow your hotel, car service, show you’re going to see.  this allows you to connect with them directly and only good can (and has) come from that.

this doesn’t even touch the surface on twitter, but remember, this is for you mr or miss busy executive.

facebook: telephone

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well, telephone is a bit of a stretch.  but you’re able to talk to a good amount of people at once and if it’s relevant to them – they’ll speak up.  remember, you control your social media.  you control what pictures you have up, what you say and all of it helps define your personality to “the public” – or in the case of facebook, your friends.   maybe a better analogy would be that facebook is a magazine all about you.  sound narcissistic?  it’s not.  because i love tracking with my friends this way.  i love seeing someone got promoted, had a great day, went on vacation.  but even more, i love getting advice from a variety of people.

1. if you are a busy executive who doesn’t have time for facebook then don’t get on it.  if you pretend to have a page with a profile picture but no timeline photo then we KNOW that you have a page simply to look at other people’s pages.  and that is ok, i guess, but not the point of social media.  you also may have a half of page and just not be interested in facebook – in that case just take it down.  by not finishing your page and keeping up with it it sends the message “i tried but i’m going back to listen to my 8 track tapes”.  you don’t want that!

2. ok, so what to do on facebook if you’re a busy executive.  first, update everything.  it’s easy.  make sure there isn’t a big space at the top of your page – that is your timeline photo.  if it’s not updated, then everyone knows you haven’t done anything in over a year.  next, once a week, scroll through your news feed and “like” and comment on anything you “like” or have something to say.  once a week.  that’s good.

3. next, twice a week post an article you like or create a status with a quote or a favorite saying.  better yet, do it at the same time every week.  everyone likes this and the quote that you choose says something about you.

that’s it.  that’s good for a start.  who knows, you may want to do more once you get this far!  if you do, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for help.  after all that is what i do for a living!

what younger women need to know – part deux

5 Mar

as my avid readers know, i’ve launched a new series called:

what younger women need to know

It stems from a need to connect with older, confident women.  i want all those tidbits, advice and most of all the perspective.  a couple of weeks ago, i profiled shirley and you can check it out here.  and today, i’m talking to kay baker.

Occupation:  Retired Educator from Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, and for the past 13 years I have served as a consultant and Texas Field Director for the Horatio Alger Association.   www.horatioalger.org      My first involvement with Horatio Alger was 30+ years ago.   

Photo of Kay 

  1. What’s the best thing about growing older  I am 73, and I like my age very much!  At 73, I have a better understanding and tolerance of the world around me…although often growing older brings failing health which is a heart-break.
  2. What decade did you like the most and why – 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s  I loved the 50’s.  Great strides were made in the medical field during that time…It was the year of the first organ transplant, and DNA was discovered. This was significant due to some family illnesses.  Color TV was also introduced and later in the 50’s the TV remote control was developed.  In addition, NASA was founded in the 50’s which led to vast space exploration yet not until the early 60’s was the first woman involved in space.
  3. The one meal you cooked the most in your life: Our family loved spaghetti and meat balls, and that meal found its way on our table once a week.  Meat loaf was another all-time favorite.
  4. One of the best decisions you ever made: One of the best decisions I ever made was to get an education—both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree.  I am from a family of educators, and I was always told that an education did not particularly “make a person better, but it would be an agent in opening doors for you.”  I found that very true.  I have always had a special love for children.  Without an education I could not have spent 40 years teaching and in High School Administration. Even after my retirement, I work for the Horatio Alger Association, a Scholarship group, that assists high school graduates further their education with needed funding. 
  5. One of the worst:  I have always regretted that I did not complete a Doctoral Program.
  6. Advice you would give a younger woman: The world belongs to the young!  They should explore every avenue and seek every opportunity.  In deciding on a career—find a job you love and look forward to and it will never seem like ‘work’.”   My Grandmother shared this philosophy with me when I was very young…and she was correct!  I have always looked forward, enjoyed and had a great commitment for the jobs that I have had.
  7. Who did you admire most in your life and why: I had a Grandmother and Mother that I dearly loved and admired.  They were very thoughtful, very loving, caring, and considerate.  They had a wealth of friends that surrounded them.  They had a deep Christian belief.  I have always tried to emulate them.
  1. Who was the most important or famous person you ever met and were you impressed?  I have several people with whom I have been greatly impressed.  E. Don Brown, the Principal at L. D. Bell High School that I worked with for many years has always shown great wisdom and exceptional guidance in working with youngsters.  And there are many members of the Horatio Alger Association that I have had the honor and opportunity to meet and work with that I greatly admire for their commitment to young people and their contributions in making possible the funding for many scholarships.  Each year the Horatio Alger Association gives more than 8 million in scholarships to need-based young people throughout the United States and Canada.  What a group!

Thank you, Kay!

what younger women need to know.

21 Feb

I love older women!  

older than me, that is.  i think about all i’ve been through in my 44 years – the things i’ve done, seen, loved + cried over and, well, it’s a long list.  that’s why i appreciate hearing from other women that are even older than me.  they are in their 60’s or above and willing to mentor + share with me their wisdom.  

so today, i will share with you my notes from shirley.  Shirley is my dad’s cousin and one of the neatest people that i know!  she and her husband jerry, surprised my mom for her 70th birthday party along with my aunt annette.  ROF and i got to know shirley and jerry even more and i love this lady!  thanks shirley for the great insight!

name:  Shirley Gasvoda

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occupation before and after marriage:  Assistant Counselor at Indiana University

1.  The best thing about growing older:  The peace and contentment of a life well lived, the joy of helping to create a happy family, the time to do what you want and not what you have to do and, most of all, not having to look like a raving beauty to impress people knowing you’ve earned every wrinkle and grey hair!

2.   My favorite (age) decade was the 50’s because our children were raised and mostly on their own, we had enough money to do things we enjoyed and we were still healthy and energetic enough to kick up our heels and look forward to grandchildren!

3.   The meal I cooked the most was pot roast which was the favorite of my three men and I must have baked pies a hundred times over.  I was and am the designated pie maker for all the Gasvoda holidays and that usually calls for five or six each time.

(i think we need both recipes, right?  will you share, shirley?)

4.    The best decision I ever made was to marry young to my wonderful husband.  We had our two boys at an early age which may not be as easy today but we were lucky to be surrounded by family to help and a strong love to depend on.  One advantage for us was that we were still young and healthy enough to be active after the kids were grown and we can enjoy our retirement years together.

5.    The worst decision I made was not pursuing a college education after being awarded a scholarship to Indiana University.  I was in love with my husband and decided to work at I.U. at home to be close to him while he attended Purdue University. Fortunately it worked out well but I would have benefited from not only the knowledge but the social advantages college would have offered.

6.     The advice I would give to a young woman is be yourself and not be influenced by social media if it contradicts what you want in life.  Think before you make a decision and if it’s the life you want badly give it all you can and go pursue your dreams.  If a husband is one of your goals, make sure he treats you with respect and love and wants your happiness as well as his own and you both have the same desires in life.

7.     I had two very strong women in my life and I admired them greatly.  My Grandmother came to the USA alone via Ellis Island when she was sixteen years old.  She spoke only German and didn’t know a word of English.  She was sponsored by a Dr. in Chicago and found work as a Nanny and supported herself until she married my Grandfather at twenty one years of age.  She had eight children and lived a happy life until age 76.

My Mother was also very strong and raised two children on a tenth grade education with little financial assistance.  She was a very hard worker and was always ready to take more than one job to supply our needs.  She had no help from the government which would probably be unheard of today! I like to hope that both these ladies shared some of their strength with me.

8.    Who is the most famous person you’ve met?  I’ve met some wonderful people along the way and impressed by their love of country and humanity but to categorize them as movie stars, politicians etc. would not top my list though I’ve met several.  I’ve had the pleasure of being guided by two Christian ministers who mentored and blessed me with their deep and abiding faith and have the love of fantastic friends and family that have provided unending inspiration.   Friends and Family make my world go around and a God that supports my every move….What more is there???

thanks, shirley.  i appreciate you.

and people – look for more of these to come in the future!

women rock.

22 Sep

hands down.  this is coming from someone who works primarily with men – being in the car business.  nothing against boys.  they rock too.  but there is something special about the breadth of responsibility and the depth of compassion that makes me in awe of my gender.

meet ramona and dr. ami doshi.  

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i had to get my old silver fillings replaced saturday morning at 9am.  who the hell picks saturday morning at 9am to get drilled on?  i guess i do.  i was dreading it.  i had only met ramona, the dental assistant and dr. doshi the dentist the week prior.   this was dr. doshi’s office and instantly, you can tell it was going to be a different experience.

first of all, they take appointments 2 saturdays a month for those of us (all of us?) that work during the week.  next, when you check in on facebook to her practice, you get a full size tube of extra whitening toothpaste (value $6!).  next, you sit down on a gentle massaging chair and just about the time you notice that the chair is moving, you hear the sounds of lindsey stirling coming from the computer in the office playing pandora.  unlike other experiences i’ve had, this isn’t one of those dentist offices that is run by hygienists and the dentist just makes an appearance, more like vice versa.  ramona, a young, vibrant, full of life hygienist, born in romania and lived there until she was 15 now is married with 2 small boys.  she makes sure you’re extra comfortable .  dr. doshi is young as well and also has 2 small boys.  she is originally from india. she takes digital pictures of your entire mouth and then shows you on a hd tv what your mouth looks like and what she is observing.  you don’t have to just believe her like in the old days of dentistry.

now that you have the layout, here’s my point:

while i’m getting massaged in the chair, head back, pandora playing, laughing gas on high (morning!) dr. doshi and ramona go to work as a team on my teeth.  everything’s normal at this point.

but then they start talking about their kids, recipes and questions ramona has for dr. doshi on her son playing football because her boys are just a couple years older.  ramona respects the dr and is attentive to her needs as she drills endlessly and  a steady stream of mist is spurting  from my mouth.  but you can tell that they are friends.  ramona tells me that dr. doshi brings in the best samosas she’s ever had and then we launch into a full conversation about india.  ramona wheels her chair around and punches some bollywood music.  dr. doshi talks about the rich culture and many types of music of india.  i’m smiling behind my glasses and pink pig snout laughing gas mask at the fun repertoire

this is when it hit me i wanted to write about these two.  because this is business run and managed by a woman.  attention to detail, attention to care and confident enough to bring her whole self into the office.  you don’t have to be a woman to appreciate it either.

as i leave and ROF comes in, wondering what is going on because we’re all giggling.  as she checks me out, ramona gives me a free whitening pen for referring ROF.  she also gives me a piece of paper where she wrote down all the music i was asking about.  nice difference.  and nice pen considering on my end it wasn’t so much as a referral but killing 2 birds with 1 stone by making his appointment along with mine.   sigh.  i love it.

work & life balance. constant journey. found yours?

4 Aug

suddenly i’ve hit an age where i feel somewhat wise.

not in a smart, know-it-all kind of way. it’s just a result of age. i feel wise because, for me, i’ve may have figured it out. priorities. you know when you are in your 20s and 30s (at least 4 me) i kind of – how do you say – worked my ass off. i was single focused on:

finding out what the expectations are and exceeding them. from my boss, from my clients even from my friends. some call that being a people-pleaser and i wouldn’t disagree but i’d add to that definition. i would call it being driven.

and that changed as i grew up. in my 20s, when i started to wonder about the bigger things in life like “where do you go when you die?” and “is this all for nothing” and “is this world really all about… just us?” i dug into all kinds of spiritual things and spun out in a place of faith where i know is the right place to be. but the point here isn’t that – it’s that what i started to be driven towards changed and grew.

but now, in my 40s i’ve started to question the engine that is driving me. i go back to the place i’ll call my eye opening moment. my dad’s funeral. you can read about that here. it was when all the work folks poured in and dealers from all over the country filled the room and i thought to myself THIS IS WHERE YOU END UP! all your stress and your voicemails and emails and strategy – you end up here.

so i came up with my own priorities that i thought about and spelled out and think about now – at least for the past week since I made them up. i am going to run everything through this and it will tell me how worried to get about something or stressed or even happy for that matter.

here it is, in this order, with the background of photos i took in northern michigan last week:
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this is my new driver. first God. not my version of God. to each their own, but i know my God. it is the God of the bible and the one you only can know through Jesus. that is most important to me because it puts me on track and is more than just this life.

second is a combo meal. it is health and love. health has never ever been on my radar. i would say my priorities for the most part of my life have been more in this order: 1. work 2. love & feel good. not anymore. i’ve got a functional medicine nutritionist and i’m working the simple plan. striving for a life change and for paris!

love is ROF and my friends and family. if i don’t have my health, i won’t have them and they won’t have me. like peas in a pod. and they mean the world to me. more than work and feeling good and anything else.

third is work. and this is key. this is what i run the most through my stress gauge now. does it affect my relationship with God? am i putting work before God and health and love? yes? then something is off.

we’ll see how this works out but right now, i’m feeling great. now off for a beautiful sunday with ROF driving in JWK (old car) to a car show.

this is JWK:

JWK1

what is your priority filter? i’d love to know – please share!

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